Thursday, July 12, 2012

ARC Review: Before You Go by James Preller

Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (July 17, 2012)

Description: The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.

Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in his first young adult novel that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.

My Thoughts: This was a heartbreaking story about grief and loss told in an almost stream-of-consciousness style. It is Jude's story as he finds his first job at a beach concession stand, makes one of his co-workers his first girlfriend, and hangs with his friends. 

Jude is carrying a load of grief since his little sister Lily drowned in their family pool while he was supposed to be watching her. Of course, he was only nine at the time. He should never have been responsible for her. His parents deal with the grief in their own ways. His father is a high-tech jogger with all the appropriate gear. His mother has sort of withdrawn from life with a series of cluster headaches and lots of medications. Lily's room has been set aside as shrine and she is the elephant in the room. No one talks about her.

Then tragedy strikes again. And this time, the blow might be too much for Jude to overcome. We watch him go through the many stages of grief especially focusing on anger and withdrawal from life. This one raised a personal chord for me as I lost a brother to a car accident when he was only twenty and I saw what it did to my family. So many of the things in this book were things I remember happening. 

This story is powerful, gritty, and heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful. I recommend it to thoughtful adolescents who want a sad book. 

Favorite Quote:
He looked at her from across the room. Her hair was beginning to turn white, her eyes were pink and small. She seemed frail, fragile. She had never been the same. Ever since Lily passed, his mother was present and absent at once. Here and not here.
I got this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.

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